Jason Weissberg of Assawoman Bay Brewing Company always has been a gracious host, so it was no surprise that we had such a great time at the OCtoberfest brew day. In case you missed it, the local brewers teamed up with Doug and Shawn from Xtreme Brewing in Laurel, Del. to produce two homebrew-style beers for the Shore Craft Beer festival Oct. 24.
If you never have homebrewed before and also never been a part of the process, it is fun but it also can be a tad tedious in large groups. The paradox of homebrewing is that it is more fun with a lot of people, but there really isn’t a lot for more than one or two people to do. It’s like group cooking.
That said, the participants were still pretty engaged, mostly because it was a chance to hang out for a couple hours, have some great beer and food and do a little networking. “Networking” is kind of a weird term to describe what was going on. For the first part, most of these folks speak with one another weekly. The generosity among brewers never ceases to amaze me. They trade and loan gear and ingredients in a way that makes it easy to forget that they aren’t working for the same company.
But they are working for the same industry and the same goal, which for their purposes is essentially the same thing. It is one of the things that brewers say sets the entire industry apart, but here, probably because of proximity, it is amplified. Many of the local brewers were homebrewers together or worked with one another at other places. Many were friends (or at least friendly) before they were professional brewers. Cooperation is second nature among these guys, stepping on one another’s toes isn’t.
So the brew day was a lot like a cooking party. Jason worked on one beer, primarily, while Adam Davis of Backshore Brewing worked on the other, primarily. Everyone pitched in, pouring and measuring or moving things as necessary, but once the boil was on and it was mostly a bunch of people standing around, everyone took turns finding the next beer.
As with most of the brewpubs in the area, Assawoman Bay Brewing doesn’t have only its beers on tap, but carries a bunch of locally brewed beers. Brewers got a kick out of trying beers they hadn’t gotten around to having yet (the shoemakers children are barefoot, etc.) and catching up with one another.
Several were gearing up to head to Colorado for the Great American Beer Festival, which was a popular topic of conversation. As each aspect of the brewing process came around, people would wander back in to the brewery to chat and to insinuate themselves into the process. Everyone truly wanted to have at least a little something to do with the beer.
In the end, Jason arranged for food out at the bar and we all made our way out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m lucky to be in a position where most of the beer I try was made by the person handing it to me. Jason and Adam stayed to finish up, mostly.
The last thing there is to do is to name it. Here, from the ShoreCraftBeer.com Facebook page, are the beers and their descriptions. Feel free to enter the naming contest by following this link.
1.) Breakfast Porter. This dark porter has notes of chocolate, coffee, smoke, and toffee. It was brewed with a base of Gleneagles Maris Otter malt from the north of Scotland, along with Mesquite Smoked Malt for smokiness, Dark Crystal Malt for a touch of caramel sweetness, Flaked Oats for nuttiness and mouthfeel, and Pale Chocolate Malt to add a roast nuttiness and darker color with a small percentage of Midnight Wheat and Black Patent Malts for a little coffee/roasted/chocolate flavors. A pound of regular molasses at flameout tops out the fermentable ingredients and the use of Fuggles, Hallertau and Cascade hops balance the sweetness of the residual sugars to create an autumn beer that is good all day.
2.) Harvest Ale. Made with ingredients that grow above and in the ground. The base is a Red Ale made that incorporates Red X Malt and Red beets, both producing a noticeable red color, plus some Dark Crystal Malt for a touch of sweetness and more reddish color. Northern Brewer hops for bittering and East Kent Golding hops for flavor and aroma provide the balance for a malty beer fit for the cooler season.